Robert Davila, RIT vice president for the National Technical Institute
for the Deaf (NTID), is a master of the succinct. Given the chance to
reflect on his career at NTID and the path that brought him here, he
offers simply, "I saved the best for last . . . I will retire from
this job." Davila, 69, steps down in July.
Prior to his arrival at NTID in 1996, he served as U.S. Department
of Education assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative
services, headmaster of the New York School for the Deaf, vice president
of Gallaudet University, and president of virtually every leading national
organization related to the education of deaf persons.
His passion for improving the lives of young deaf people through education
undoubtedly is shaped in part by his own childhood. Becoming profoundly
deaf at the age of 8; being sent to a school for the deaf 500 miles
from home by his widowed mother, a Spanish-speaking migrant worker with
seven other children; learning to forge his path in life without the
guidance of a father - these experiences shaped the man whose daunting
work ethic and passion for education have guided NTID into the 21st
He is particularly proud of the efforts of faculty and staff who have
helped double the college's endowment (now $22.2 million), increase
the number of minority students from 20 percent to 23 percent (241 students),
increase the number of grants and contracts, and make NTID a more integral
part of the university.
One of his personal successes is NTID's master of science degree program
in secondary education (MSSE), which he lobbied to have folded into
NTID. This program, which prepares graduate students to become teachers
of deaf students, is "a fantastic investment," he says. "Graduates
are being gobbled up for jobs and soon we'll have students applying
to NTID who are better prepared because of the preparation they have
received from these teachers."
He is equally proud of NTID's international reputation as a leader
in postsecondary education for deaf persons. "We know more than
anyone in the world about how to integrate deaf and hearing students
in classrooms," he says. "And we've opened numerous doors
for deaf students in fields of study that were virtually closed to them
when I was of college age."
"We're doing a great job in helping students transition from NTID to
the larger university and to the world of employment," he continues.
"And we know we're succeeding because of the high percentage of
graduates who told us, via our recent alumni survey, that they were
satisfied with the educational preparation they received here. More
than 4,500 alumni are employed in occupations commensurate with their
level of training."
"NTID's purpose is to help young deaf people acquire the knowledge
and develop skills they will need to face and overcome the challenges
that await them in the competitive world of work. Preparation and instruction
of these young adults is at the heart of this Institute."